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The Lotus Eaters of Sri Lanka

sunny 32 °C

In Greek mythology the Lotus-eaters were an island race who led a sweet and gentle life by eating only lotus plants. As we ate a delicious lunch off lotus leaves in an al fresco jungle dining room in Sri Lanka we could understand...
We came to Sri Lanka as visitors but we left as friends, just as Danushka, our driver and guide from Brothers Tours in Negombo, said we would. We certainly made friends with Danushka, and we also made friends with the guide who took us on a leopard safari in Yala National Park. Danushka is on the left in this photo....
Apart from when we were in the tea plantations in the Central Highlands, Sri Lanka gave us nothing but sun-filled days and balmy nights punctuated briefly by tropical downpours. And when it rains in Sri Lanka, it absolutely tips down. Imagine riding in a tuk-tuk in this weather...
Sri Lanka is a land of a million cheeky tuk-tuk operators and thousands of reckless bus drivers The tuk-tuk guys simply zip in and out of the slightest chinks in the traffic and pump out noxious fumes from their under powered three-wheelers, while the buses bear down on you without any hope or intention of giving way. Some suicidally inclined foreigners hire self-drive tuk-tuks for ten dollars a day to tour the island – we did not.
National Geographic moments are a dime a dozen in Sri Lanka with spectacularly exotic scenery, an abundance of wildlife and thousands of elaborate religious buildings and enormous Buddhas...
However, like so many of the South Asian countries, Sri Lanka has legions of poor people whose lives are barely touched by western modernity. Millions of homes are little more than shacks lacking even the basic amenities. Imagine doing your laundry in the river!...
But Government sponsored women's cooperatives operate excellent street kitchens where for less than a dollar you can get a filling lunch...
The government is in a massive financial hole thanks to lavish expenditures on toll-highways, a new airport and a major new seaport. However, the new roads are sparsely used, the airport has few flights and the port has never opened because of insufficient water depth. Yet, the beautiful people of Sri Lanka continue smiling. And they have much to smile about...
Now back to our safari in Yala National Park in Southern Sri Lanka. This park is touted as being the best place to see the elusive Sri Lankan leopards. However, we were warned that the big cats are rarely sighted by tourists in the dense undergrowth so we had no expectations as we set off by Jeep in the dark at 5am. By 8.30am we were ready to quit and get back to our hotel for breakfast when...
Amazingly, a family of four leopards stole silently out of the bush and crossed the path just ahead of us.
The mother and three cubs disappeared into the undergrowth in seconds and by the time the other Jeeps came racing up, they were gone. To see a single wild leopard is a rare privilege but we saw four!
As Danushka would often say, “No problem Sri Lanka.” And the truth is that Sri Lanka was no problem. In our view it is “India light”. It is easier, cleaner, friendlier and more welcoming than its big northerly neighbour and we highly recommend a visit.

Posted by Hawkson 02:28 Archived in Sri Lanka

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Hi. We saw 4 leopards in Yala national park. We were very lucky to see 4 leopards. I miss my 3 friends Sheila, Jim and Christine. We met as guests and parted as unforgettable friends. Love you all so much.

by Danushka Fernando

Hoping for a sunny day here. I am sick of the winter esp with all my friends away. oh well I have had lots of trips all over the world a few years ago. Thanks so much for sending these great photos. Love Jean

by Jean McLaren

Looks like you're both having a good time. Would love to go on a safari!

by Samchow58

It is snowing here right now. Your pictures are great as usual. By the way, I have washed my clothes in a river. Not as bad as you might think.

by keith

Donuts for lunch? They look so good. And even though I doubt I will make it to Sri Lanka - it looks like a lovely place to visit.

by Janet

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